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Best SSDs: $200 To $300

Best SSDs For The Money: May 2012
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Best SSDs for ~$210: Mainstream 240 GB

Mushkin Enhanced Chronos (Check Prices)

Mushkin Enhanced Chronos
240 GB
Sequential Read
560 MB/s
Sequential Write525 MB/s
Power Consumption (Active)
3 W
Power Consumption (Idle)1 W

Over the last two months, we've seen vendors slash prices on their first-generation SandForce SSDs in order to dump old inventory. Though they become great bargains, they still face competition. After all, you don't really have to spend much more to step up to a 6 Gb/s-capable drive instead.

Depending on the month, sometimes it's actually cheaper to buy a faster SF-22xx-based SSD than it would be to settle for last year's marked-down model. As you may have already noticed from the preceding pages, Mushkin is being particularly aggressive this month with its prices, which explains how the 240 GB Enhanced Chronos supplants first-generation SandForce-based offerings. At only $210, this SSD sports synchronous flash like OCZ's Vertex 3 and only costs $0.88 per GB.

We doubt these deals will last for long. Mushkin is likely making a big push here, so next month's recommendations could very well be completely different if the pricing seen here isn't permanent.

Best SSDs for ~$230: Premium Performance Option

Mushkin Chronos Deluxe (Check Prices)

Mushkin Chronos Deluxe
240 GB
Sequential Read
560 MB/s
Sequential Write520 MB/s
Power Consumption (Active)
3 W
Power Consumption (Idle)1 W

Wow. And Mushkin continues this month's sweep. Last month, the 240 GB was selling for $250. This month, its price is down yet another $20, pulling even a big 240 GB drive's cost under $1/GB.

When you consider that this SSD's performance equals (OCZ's Vertex 3 MAX IOPS and Patriot's Wildfire) are priced in excess of $400, this SSD is a great choice for anyone unwilling to compromise on capacity or performance, but still want a bargain.

Best SSDs for ~$250: Performance Option

Crucial m4 (Check Prices)

Crucial m4
256 GB
Sequential Read
500 MB/s
Sequential Write260 MB/s
Power Consumption (Active)
0.15 W
Power Consumption (Idle)0.10 W

If you're looking for a higher-capacity SSD with a performance-oriented tilt, Crucial's 256 GB m4 is a solid purchase. SF-22xx-based SSDs continue to sell for the lowest prices. However, Crucial's m4 gives you raw performance on a more consistent basis.

If you want to weigh each model's performance strengths, the comparison gets a little trickier. In a desktop environment, most data written sequentially tends to be compressible, favoring drives like the Vertex 3. When it comes to reads, the two drives perform similarly. But once you take into account that the m4 also offers more user-accessible space and a lower price, we think Crucial's drive is the clear victor.

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Top Comments
  • 12 Hide
    _zxzxzx_ , May 29, 2012 6:46 AM
    Great how Tom's hardware has an article on this every month :) 
Other Comments
  • 0 Hide
    DjEaZy , May 29, 2012 5:23 AM
    ... my vertex 3 still strong...
  • 2 Hide
    barracks510 , May 29, 2012 5:27 AM
    vertex=75 or 65 dollars. shows both
  • 4 Hide
    mayankleoboy1 , May 29, 2012 6:00 AM
    what about Vertex4 drives?
  • 5 Hide
    acku , May 29, 2012 6:42 AM
    Quote:
    what about Vertex4 drives?

    I need to retest the 256 GB Vertex 4 because of weird results. Couldn't make it in time this month. Definately will be in next month's feature.

    Cheers,
    Andrew Ku
    TomsHardware.com
  • 12 Hide
    _zxzxzx_ , May 29, 2012 6:46 AM
    Great how Tom's hardware has an article on this every month :) 
  • 2 Hide
    vestibule , May 29, 2012 7:13 AM
    Gotta love random deals on Newegg, I narrowly missed a 128 GB Crucial M4 for $110 a couple weeks ago, it was out of stock just seconds before I decided to get it. A week later they had a 256 GB one for $210 which is an even sweeter deal, it took days for that to be out of stock.

    Both were the newest version BTW, and I'm just holding on to the SDD for a bit for a build I'll do in a month or so.
  • -2 Hide
    iamtheking123 , May 29, 2012 8:50 AM
    "But if you look at performance over an entire month, you will find the 830 to be a faster performer"

    Still going to do 4x SSD's in raid 0 in my next build for the e-peen.
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , May 29, 2012 9:07 AM
    darn, should have waited, I could have got double the space for $10 more, good to see SSD prices come down though
  • -2 Hide
    deepb , May 29, 2012 9:08 AM
    Is there a reason why the Mushkin 90GB version is recomendded over the OCZ Agility 3 90 GB version as the OCZ one is available at Amazon for 85$ http://www.amazon.com/Agility-2-5-Inch-Midrange-Performance-AGT3-25SAT3-90G/dp/B005MYFHYS/ref=sr_1_6?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1338281637&sr=1-6
  • 0 Hide
    wmfoster2001 , May 29, 2012 10:10 AM
    Would the 180Gb Intel 520 SSD belong in Tier 2 or 3?
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , May 29, 2012 11:23 AM
    There's a cheaper option for the 120GB drive:
    http://www.amazon.com/Mushkin-Chronos-2-5-Inch-Solid-MKNSSDCR120GB/dp/B005CGFU4I/ref=pd_sim_sbs_pc_1/177-0683581-1054634
    The only listed "Mushkin Enhanced Chronos Deluxe" is not available also.
  • -2 Hide
    juan83 , May 29, 2012 12:17 PM
    At 1$/GB i think is time to talk about raid 0, but i know little about reliability of this disks.

    2 x 90GB = 180GB and ~ 900 Mb/sec and spending 180$
  • 1 Hide
    notsleep , May 29, 2012 12:32 PM
    i managed to snag a brand new samsung 830 128 gb for $119 a couple weeks ago for my new build. it's my very first desktop ssd. one of the best thing performance wise that i noticed in my new build was the ssd. :) 
  • 3 Hide
    Anonymous , May 29, 2012 12:51 PM
    Remember that with Raid 0 you lose TRIM functionality and performance will degrade overtime.
  • 1 Hide
    eddieroolz , May 29, 2012 1:44 PM
    Bought a Crucial m4 128GB for $148CAD, then prices dropped to $128CAD this month. Ah well.
  • 6 Hide
    jaquith , May 29, 2012 2:00 PM
    There are so many sales that it's impossible to justify "Best" based upon MSRP. I truly wish the maximum R/W wasn't listed in this review as the headliners, especially since IOPS (R/W) and 4K (R/W) are what's important -- not to mention Reliability, $/GB, and Warranty.

    Choosing the "Best SSD" per price range needs to be a weighted scoring.
  • 3 Hide
    RaidenSix , May 29, 2012 2:06 PM
    Any particular reason the Corsair Performance Pro series was not included?
  • 3 Hide
    samuelspark , May 29, 2012 3:03 PM
    deepbIs there a reason why the Mushkin 90GB version is recomendded over the OCZ Agility 3 90 GB version as the OCZ one is available at Amazon for 85$ http://www.amazon.com/Agility-2-5- [...] 637&sr=1-6


    Mushkin Enhanced Chronos has sychronous flash and offers much better performance, comparable to the Vertex 3.
  • -1 Hide
    Anonymous , May 29, 2012 3:29 PM
    The Mushkin Enhanced Chronos has asynchronous NAND.
  • 2 Hide
    TheBigTroll , May 29, 2012 3:41 PM
    mushkin chronos deluxe is awesome
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